I’m Still Stuck?

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling like I’m stuck in this Covid mess that we are in. I’m tired of wearing masks every time I walk into a building for work or the store. It’s really wearing on me. Going to the doctor isn’t simple anymore. Before walking in the doctor’s office or just after I get there I have to do a questionnaire. Before I go to work every morning I have to fill out a questionnaire that tells me I’m likely to be able to work. {{{SIGH}}} Yes, I’m feeling stuck. I know that I’m one of the lucky ones. I haven’t gotten Covid, although I know a lot of people who have. I still have my job, I didn’t have a loss of income. I know a lot of people who have really been negatively impacted by this. I’ve been blessed considering everything.

In my last post I mentioned (but didn’t get into) the way you feel when you’re stuck. You feel weary, frustrated, tired and angry. Well, weary of what is happening, especially if it’s the same old, same old everyday. Frustrated because it seems like you are not making any progress on anything. You feel tired because, usually, you are also depressed, which makes you tired and the more you think about being depressed the “tireder” you get. And finally, you get angry. At yourself, your situation, at people who just happen to cross your path the “wrong” way. We aren’t good for anyone or anything while we feel this way, and we need to stop the cycle.

Believe me, I still get these feelings, especially now in the Covid situation. Thing are not “normal” (what ever that means). I’ve found out that “normal” is a setting on the clothes dryer and nothing else. I’ve even come to hate the term “new normal”. What happened to the old normal? Was there even a thing that was normal? Not in my life….

I digress… The only thing that can calm me and help my mood is knowing that God is in Control. That’s Control with a capital C. Yes, He knows about everything that is going on and He has a plan. I don’t know what the plan is; He is God and I am not. So, my job at this time is to trust Him (and sigh if I must, He understands) and keep moving. I may not be moving very fast and I may not be going to a lot of places, but I’m moving. I’m working on improving me physically by trying to walk more and drink more water and eat better. I’m also trying to read my Bible regularly, reading Bible commentaries and trying to get into a habit of scheduled prayer time. I’m working to expand my mind and my heart as well as my physical self. This is something we all have to do to keep our spirits up. The “feeling stuck” mood has to go if we are to be any use to anyone.

Anger and Frustration

What do you do with your anger? Our world has enough stress in it right now, adding caregiving on top of it creates a whole new kind of pressure. I know that I wasn’t the wonderful, kind loving person that the last couple of posts seem to paint me. I got plenty frustrated at Joe and it built into anger.

For example, we went through a lot of health care aides for a while. Joe was not very nice to these wonderful people who would come in and give him a shower, dress him and make sure he ate. On the whole, most of these ladies were kind, wonderful people. Joe would make them cry. He was mean. He’d call them names. I had one wonderful woman who would cry almost every night when I came home, but she kept coming back. Some of them didn’t.

He would tell them he wanted to wait for me to come home and give him a shower. We had done this for several years previously because he was mostly ambulatory but needed help in the shower. As his physical condition got worse he needed help to walk (fall risk) and get around and so we were able to get the home aides. I was working full time to support us, and by the time I got home, made dinner and then give him a shower, I was so tired. I was already running exhausted all the time and his meanness with the aides just put me over the edge.

I had already talked to Joe (nicely) about being nice to the aides. I had encouraged him to take his showers during the day so I wouldn’t have that burden with him in the evening. We’d had a lot of talks about this. He’d say he just didn’t like them or they wouldn’t take care of him his way (which was to leave him alone).

After the fourth or fifth aide had come and gone I lost it. I yelled. I hollered. I blew my stack. I told him straight out that if he made it so I had to quit work to take care of him, he would regret every minute I was home. I told him if he didn’t straighten up I would slam him in a nursing home and never visit. There was a few other threats, but you get the idea.

It worked. At least for a bit of time. We also got an aide who had a thick skin and wouldn’t take the “guff” from him. I thanked God for her everyday, she was that good. She stayed with Joe up to the time I did put him in a nursing home because his medical needs were getting overwhelming for me and for the aides and the Home Health Care Nurses were coming more and more frequently.

I know I shouldn’t have blown up on him that way, but what do you do with all that frustration that builds up? It’s so hard to get any time to yourself, but I’d manage an hour or two on the weekends and that helped. I also had a counselor that I could vent to and a couple of friends that I would talk to. My faith also helped to temper much of my emotion. I look back on this time now and I feel some guilt for acting that way. But we are all on a “Learning Curve” so to speak. Most of us are thrown into caregiving without warning and the “Learning Curve” is very steep. So, even though I know I wasn’t my best person at that time, I forgive myself for acting that way and move forward. It’s the best thing to do.

Walking this Journey

You may recognize the “sign-post” that I have up. It’s the stages of grief. Anyone who has been to a counselor or therapist should know the stages. I joked with my counselor that I was so acquainted with them I knew them by heart.

You see, any loss be it a job, a move, any large changes in your life will kick in with some of these stages. We who are caregivers should be very well acquainted with them, indeed. We feel the grief when our family member is diagnosed with a terminal condition. They haven’t died yet, but we are already starting down that road of denial, anger, bargaining and depression. And while we are caring for our terminal family member, even if it’s for a short time, we may “move around” from one stage to another and back again. And just because we get to acceptance doesn’t mean we’re through grieving.

The one I got stuck in more than others was depression. That one is a killer. I read once that depression is anger turned inward. We can’t just be angry at the one we’re caring for so we stuff that anger and then feel guilty for being angry in the first place. I took a mild anti-depressant while taking care of Joe. I needed it so I could focus at my work and be functional in my life. I also went to a counselor, someone who is not judgemental who could listen to all my frustrations.

We all need an outlet for our feelings. Find someone, whether it’s a counselor, therapist or just a very understanding friend, who you can talk openly to. Someone who can listen to your frustrations and anger and not let it bother them. Someone who understands. If you need to use anti-depressants to help you get through your journey, because this is a journey, not just a little side trip off the road of life, then use them.

These stages are going to be a large part of your journey. Please find someone to help you walk through it.